Openings mean opportunities

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Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

CORTLAND, N.Y. — In the first press conference following a 2013 training camp practice, Rex was asked whether or not he believed that the 2013 Jets were more or less talented than teams he has had in the past at the outset of camp.  Rex conceded that he couldn’t remember a time when so many starting jobs were up for grabs, but when pressed on which Jets team was better, the Jets fifth year head coach deflected.  Rex referred to his words at the start of the 2013 offseason in which stated that he believed 2013 to be “a new beginning for me.”  It wasn’t enough and Rex was asked again about where this team stood in the pantheon of his Jets teams and trying to round off the line of questioning, Rex bluntly answered that “the proof is in the pudding.”

With that in mind, it’s worth noting that while this was just the first day of training camp, there are players on this roster who are aware of the opportunities being presented to them and who are working to be part of the recipe for that pudding.  

One of those players is undoubtedly John Griffin, the running back who spent time on the practice squad last season and is back with the team.  During his press conference in an unprompted remark, Ryan smiled as he explained how Griffin looked in practice today saying ‘the little Griffin kid is showing out a little, too.’  With Mike Goodson out with an as-of-yet explained absence and the Jets holding out Chris Ivory for the next few days, Griffin took full advantage of the extra reps and looked solid in practice against the defenses he saw.  While he did drop one wide open pass in the flat, Griffin showed his impressive ability to turn on a dime and create yards in open space.  That was the role the Jets front office had envisioned for Goodson, but with no timeline on a possible return for the former Raider and Panther, Griffin is taking advantage.  That little Griffin kid might need to get better at pass protection, something that showed up today in practice, but Griffin has the potential, and opportunity.

It was clear today that the offensive line is going to take some time to coalesce.  Because of this, the Jets had some protection breakdowns for both Geno and Mark.  There were sacks and stripped footballs tallied by the defense, and one of the men who nabbed one of them was outside linebacker Ricky Sapp.  Sapp’s speed and power were on display in a sack that took some time in the making.  As a note, rookie Sheldon Richardson also shows up in the sack column today too … playmakers in the making?

While all the talk of the receivers was about Santonio and Braylon, it was Clyde Gates (16 catches for 224 yards in 2012) who put on a show on Friday.  Gates was a vocal leader of his position group; injecting life and energy into mundane drills.  Gates, who was brought in due to his familiarity with Sparano’s system, showed excellent technique during the receiver route tree drill and put it all together in practice by way of a number of excellent catches (both short and deep) and scoring at least one touchdown on a play where he ran away from the defense.

While he’s not competing for a job, it is obvious that Quinton Coples is coming into his own as a leader on the field.  Coples, who was quiet and reserved as a rookie last year seems to be getting comfortable in his skin as he hooted to his defensive mates and barked at opposing skill players as he chased them across the field during the practice period.  In one of the best lines of the day, he taunted Geno as the quarterback scrambled for the sideline trying to make years.  Coples could be heard telling Geno that he was “not that fast!”